Why I’ve just joined the Liberal Democrats

Hello! My name is Tom Sutton and I am a 16-year-old student from the Wirral Peninsula near Liverpool currently sitting my GCSEs and I want to just explain what brought me to the party.

I have been interested in politics since I was about 8 or 9. I was a Labour supporter who liked Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This was probably due to the fact that my parents owned a rather successful business during that period so I personally saw prosperity under their rule. I always said my favourite PM was Brown because in my mind, he managed to prevent national bankruptcy during the dark days of recession.

When the 2010 Election came along, I was hoping for another majority or a Lab-Lib Coalition as the Lib Dems were my second favourites. This to me seemed feasible after the result but it went differently. So I spent the last 5 years of my life calling the Tories fit to burn. However, I was indifferent to the Lib Dems. That indifferent, I would often forget they were there as you could’ve easily thought there was a Tory majority!

The same thing occurred at the 2015 Election and I hoped that the electorate would “see sense” as I was livid with Tory policies such as the Bedroom Tax and the GCSE reforms and thought we needed real change. Then the result came and it was a shock. What the biggest shocks for me were the colossal drop in Lib Dem seats and the massive rise in SNP seats. I felt the Lib Dems’ pain, but I still supported Labour.

When the leadership contest started, being from Merseyside and thinking that he was the best for us, I supported Andy Burnham. I contemplated joining to vote but didn’t get round to it. But, Jeremy Corbyn won and due to how far left he was, my level of support went down. When my Labour-run council voted unanimously to close a respite centre for the severely disabled, it shot down. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d had enough.

The coup de grâce was the Ken Livingstone Anti-Semitism row. I had an epiphany. I realised that Labour was too fractured. That was when I had enough. I had a look at the Lib Dem policies and come to realise that I probably relate to them more than Labour’s. I have a few friends who are either members or supporters of the party. They told me they were very welcoming and it was a good party to be in. So I chose to bite the bullet and I signed up.

Welcoming was an understatement! All I had to do was give Bambi St Jay, Liberal Youth Comms Officer my Twitter handle and my Twitter went crazy. All Bambi did was give me a welcome tweet! It was then I knew this was where I belonged. A party that stood up for what was right, listened to people and stood up and took it on the chin when they got it wrong. I am proud to say that I am a Liberal! I carry my membership card and wear my pin with pride. I see a future in a liberal Britain.

The Lib Dem Fightback has started.

* Tom Sutton joined the Liberal Democrats in 2016 as a 16 year old. Tom is a former Co-President of Lancaster University Liberal Democrats, a former Co-Chair of Wirral Young Liberals and 2019 Candidate for University and Scotforth Rural - Lancaster City Council

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19 Comments

  • Welcome, Tom.

    Just one point : ” When my Labour-run council voted unanimously to close a respite centre for the severely disabled, it shot down”.

    In fairness don’t forget local councils have suffered death by a thousand cuts from central government. It suits the Tories to pull the strings and let others take the blame. It’s called austerity… but some of us think it’s a determined ploy to outsource and to diminish local government.

  • David,
    Sorry what I didn’t put was that I was at the meeting as my dad is a respite carer. They are closing it down “to give more choice”. The leader of the council successfully stopped a debate and went straight to the vote. The Tories were saying about the people using it and knew if was just so they could get a quick quid off it. That is not what Labour is about!

  • Peter,
    What I meant by bankrupt was needing a bailout like Ireland, Greece and Iceland.

  • Daniel Henry 27th May '16 - 12:36pm

    Welcome aboard!!

  • Richard Underhill 27th May '16 - 1:21pm

    “We can conquer unemployment” John Maynard Keynes general election 1929,

  • I became interested in politics when I was 8. I noticed Liberal window posters in the 1959 general election and I thought something different!
    Good luck with your GCSEs Tom.

  • You re very welcome to the party Tom !

  • Andrew Martin 27th May '16 - 10:43pm

    Andy Burnham grew up in the nice Cheshire village of Culcheth.

  • Peter Martin
    You bring back memories.
    Britain asked the IMF for a £2.3bn bail out in 1976 saying unemployment and inflation were at exceptional levels.

  • Frank Bowles 28th May '16 - 9:14pm

    Welcome Tom 🙂

  • Kevin McNamara 29th May '16 - 3:17pm

    Welcome to the party!

  • Dave Orbison 29th May '16 - 6:41pm

    Like Tom, I live on the Wirral though my allegiance had switched to the LibDems by 2010 believing them to have a more progressive manifesto than Labour’s at the time.

    My support switched back to Labour of course before the ink was dry on the Rose Garden declaration. My opposition to the coalition simply strengthened with each passing day.

    On returning back to Labour I veered towards Burnham as Leader, not because of his accent, rather I thought he was simply the best of a bad lot. When Corbyn came along I decided to go and listen to the guy for myself. I attended a packed meeting at Birkenhead Town Hall. Unlike Burham, he was the one candidate to condemn the ‘austerity solution’ imposed upon us during the previous five years. In particular, he cited the corrosive and adverse affects cuts were having on valued and necessary public services. As a public service worker in 2010 I especially loathed the lectures from Danny Alexander who seemed to think bashing public sector workers was some form of therapy.

    That Government (the one of Clegg, Alexander etc. slashed the funding of local authorities. To be frank I would hate to be a councillor in any county or borough as, regardless of their politics, their chief job these days consists of deciding which valued public services should be cut.

    For the financial year Wirral Borough Council issued a public consultation inviting voters to indicate which services should be protected or depending on which way you see it, cut. It was one of the most depressing documents I ever read. There was not one single option would not be opposed and with some justification. But such was the funding gap. It really doesn’t matter which party controlled Wirral – severe cuts were bound to be inflicted. Wirral’s funding position like so many local authorities, even leafy Oxfordshire, is dire. The cuts described by Tom are indeed dreadful. But so are all the others ‘on offer’. The responsibility lies not with councillors up and down the land who have wasted money but with a Government that decided that austerity based on cuts rather than progressive taxation should be the solution. An austerity programme supported by the Tories, Clegg-Alexander and co and the virtually all of the Labour Front Bench at the time. I’d rather we be given clear choices.

    Farron and Corbyn may just do that. We shall she who prevails but please no more public sector bashers.

  • Dave Orbison 29th May '16 - 6:45pm

    Sorry but just for clarification – when I referred to “councillors wasting money ” of course I do not subscribe to the TaxPayers Alliance and their ilk that this is actually the case let alone the cause for a funding gap. Such a council funding gaps lie almost exclusively with the Government.

  • @ Dave Orbison Agree with every word you say, Dave. As an elected member five times (and as a Cabinet member) I have seen the results of what you describe.

    Two things come to mind recently. One is the closure of the last Women’s Refuge in Cumbria which is indefensible – the second is a photo in a Cumbria paper of a Tory junior minister last week holding a banner opposing the closure of a care home in Appleby – what he didn’t do was accept the responsibility of what his Government (including Clegg/Alexander earlier) have done to local government funding).

    I have yet to see much evidence on LDV that the penny has dropped with certain parts of this party. Until it does there will be a lot more 1.5% local government results.

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